Obama Signs Stimulus Bill

President Barack Obama traveled to Denver Tuesday to sign the economic stimulus bill. Approved by Congress on a largely party-line vote last week, the bill is designed to inject nearly $800 billion into the economy through tax cuts and new federal spending.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Well, it doesn't get much bigger than today for President Obama.

President BARACK OBAMA: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I will sign today, a plan that meets the principles I laid out in January, is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.

BLOCK: In a ceremony in Denver, the president signed the economic stimulus bill into law. The package, totaling some $787 billion in tax breaks and spending now goes into effect in an attempt to fire up the economy. The hope is that the new law will create or save more than three million jobs. NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley is traveling with the president. He joins us now from Denver. And Scott, first of all, why Denver?

SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, Melissa, it's not Washington, D.C. It's 1,689 miles away from all the political strife that led up to the passage of this bill. And getting outside the nation's capital allows the president to focus not so much on the politics but on the economic impact of this measure. And that's something we're told that the president will be doing more of in the days and weeks to come. As for why Denver in particular, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said this area has become a crossroads of clean energy. And one of the things that the stimulus bill is designed to encourage with some $50 billion in funding is green energy, alternative energy, energy efficiency.

The museum that serves as a backdrop for the signing has a big solar roof on it - solar collecting panel on its roof. And the president climbed up there to inspect that before he signed the bill.

BLOCK: And the bill, Scott, is supposed to encourage consumer spending and also create jobs, as we mentioned. How do you calculate this? When does the first dollar show up in the economy? How quickly might we start to see an impact from this law?

HORSLEY: Well, remember, the bill has two elements. The government spending is part of it and then tax cuts is another part. As part of the government spending, they wanted to have all those shovel-ready projects so that the money could be spent as quickly as possible. And the administration has promised that 75% of it will be spent in the next 18 months.

Some outsiders were skeptical of that. But one of the biggest, earliest impacts may be the tax cuts. A signature piece of the president's campaign platform was this making work pay tax cut that's going to translate into a few more dollars in working families' paychecks. That will start showing up in just a few months. And it's going to be not a huge sum, may be $13 a week for a typical worker.

But the hope is that because it's a regular, something that shows up week after week, paycheck after paycheck, people will be more inclined to spend it and re-circulate that money than if it were a one-time lump sum payment.

BLOCK: The Obama administration has called this stimulus package just one piece of an overall economic recovery plan, one leg of the stool, as they say. What comes next?

HORSLEY: Tomorrow the president will be in Arizona to talk about his foreclosure mitigation plan. We've been hearing about as many as 10,000 foreclosures a day, until some of the big banks put a halt to that, just recently, while they wait to see what the government does. Today, the president also talked about other legs of the stool being financial regulation to prevent this kind of meltdown from happening again. And then, over the longer term, addressing the nation's deficit - trying to get the fiscal House in order.

President Obama said today that the signing of the stimulus measure is not the end of our economic troubles, but to sort of paraphrase Winston Churchill, he said, it is the beginning of the end.

BLOCK: Okay, NPR's Scott Horsley in Denver. Scott, thanks very much.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Obama Signs Stimulus Bill

President Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus package into law on Tuesday, setting in motion a wave of spending and tax cuts intended to lift the country out of a 14-month recession.

The plan aims to create or save about 3.5 million jobs, many of them in infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

Obama said the measure marked "the beginning of the first steps to set our economy on a firmer foundation."

He said the plan will put Americans to work in jobs that will build the foundation for growth in the future, and that the plan is one phase of a broader plan to put the economy back on track.

The White House launched a Web site, www.recovery.gov, to allow the public to track how the stimulus money is spent.

Obama signed the measure at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, a century-old building that recently had 465 solar panels installed on the roof. The site was selected to highlight the provisions in the stimulus package that aid the growth of the renewable energy industry.

The measure also includes a $400 tax break for most individual workers and $800 for couples. It gives aid to states, provides financial incentives to buy homes and cars, increases unemployment benefits and food stamps, and subsidizes health insurance for laid-off workers and the poor.

The president faced a supportive crowd at the museum, but conservatives planned to protest the measure on the steps of the state capitol.

I don't want to pretend this marks the end of our economic problem, nor does it represent all we are going to have to do," the president said. But Obama said the most sweeping economic recovery package in U.S. history would put the country back on track for economic growth.

Obama was scheduled to unveil yet another part of his economic recovery effort Wednesday in Arizona: a plan to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure. Phoenix has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.